Serhiy Honchar
Ukrainian Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) closes in on his first Tour de France stage win in Saturday's individual time trail.

Honchar Wins Stage 7, Moves into Yellow; Landis in Second Overall

Serhiy Honchar
James Raia

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RENNES, France — Former world titlist Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) of the Ukraine surprisingly became the fourth leader of the Tour de France after he rode to a dominating individual time trial victory Saturday. Honchar, who turned 36 four days ago and is one of the oldest riders in the race, completed the 32.3-mile (52-kilometer) seventh stage from St. Gregoire in one hour, one minute, and 43 seconds.

Serhiy Honchar

Serhiy Honchar Ukrainian Serhiy Honchar (T-Mobile) closes in on his first Tour de France stage win in Saturday’s individual time trail.

Honchar, who claimed his first Tour de France stage in his 11-year professional career, began the day in tenth position, trailing four-day race leader Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) of Belgium by 37 seconds.

But Honchar, who was the 162nd starter among the field of 171, averaged 31.4 mph and now holds a one-minute overall lead over Floyd Landis (Phonak) of Murrieta, California, who placed second in the stage, 1:01 behind. Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) of Germany was third in the stage, 1:04 behind. Michael Rogers (T-Mobile) of Australia, fourth in the stage, is third overall, trailing by 1:08.

Boonen, who held the race lead for four days as a sprinting specialist, finished 41st and fell to 21st position, 3:15 behind.

The U.S. contingent was predicted to dominate but not only was the collective effort sub-par, the American corps was reduced to six when Bobby Julich (CSC) of Reno, Nevada, crashed out of the race. Julich, vying for his eighth Tour de France finish, fell on a sweeping left corner early in the stage and slid into a cobblestone curb. He left the course via ambulance and holding his right wrist.

Landis, who flatted early in the stage, was the only American in the top ten. David Zabriskie (CSC) of Salt Lake City was the next-highest American in 13th position in the stage. He’s now tenth overall, trailing by 2:03.

Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) of Santa Rosa, Calif., the highest-ranked rider in the race from 2005, began the day in 25th position. But Leipheimer placed 96th in the stage more than six minutes behind and is now 62nd overall, trailing by 6:16.

The field of 170 riders will contest the 112.4-mile (181-kilometer) eighth stage from St. Meen-le-Grand to Lorient on Sunday. The stage includes one Category 3 and three Category 4 climbs.